Date: 9th February 2016
Start time: 12:00pm
Venue: Guildhall Yard, London
Inter Livery Pancake Race
The morning of Tuesday 8th February was a bright but chilly one and the WCF Pancake Race Team and supporters, in the shape of the Master’s wife, Immediate Past Masters Tony Alston and myself, your roving reporter and newsletter editor, assembled in the impressive and historic surrounds of the Guildhall Courtyard in the heart of the City of London.
The Master, and his intrepid team of liverymen - Caroline Ratcliffe, Hilary Russell and Tim Gibbons - donned their competitive race attire of trainers (except for Caroline who had decided, as part of her fancy dress/novelty costume, perhaps a little ambitiously, to race in wellington boots), specially embroidered race aprons, paper chef’s hats and gloves - and joined the crowd in the starting gates alongside teams from a dozen or so liveries, all in some way, some rather more tenuously than others, linked to the making of pancakes.
The event, conceived, organised and ably marshalled by members of the Poulters Company, is in its 12th year and seems to grow in both participation and interest each year. This year’s iteration was attended by both the Lady Mayoress and the newly installed Sheriff, Christine Rigden – wife of Farmers liveryman Robert Rigden.
After a suitably tongue-in-cheek and artfully rhymed prayer for the safety and well being of all the competitors had been delivered by the Reverend Canon Paul Thomas OBE, the Gunmakers, as has become traditional, started the first heat with a bang. Time-keeping was conducted by the Clockmakers while the Fruiterers, resplendent in their Adam and Eve adorned regalia, provided the lemons for the pancakes.
Our Master was the first to compete and rather set the tone for our performances throughout by finishing a creditable but ultimately unsuccessful second in his heat. And I am sorry to report that despite valiant efforts in all four of their heats, our team was noticeably absent from the ‘Winners Enclosure’, not that this seemed to dampen their enthusiasm or spirits at all.
With heats for Masters, Liverymen, Ladies and the highly entertaining Novelty/Fancy Dress heats, followed by finals and the Victor Ludorum ultimate run-off, the racing continued for some 90 minutes. The weather remained bright but, if anything, got gradually colder as the morning progressed. The chill air did little to diminish the enthusiasm of the competitors or the large crowd of noisy well-wishers and supporters. But as the wind got sharper it was noticeable that the consumption of the freshly made, hot apricot pancakes seemed to increase, either as a source of sustenance or perhaps just warmth.
For the record the heat winners were The Farriers, Old Bailey, The Information Technologists and the Tylers and Bricklayers. With the Victor Ludorum going to the Old Bailey.The prize in the Novelty Parade was awarded, after careful judging by the Chief Commoner, to a gentleman from the Society of Young Freemen, dressed a little bizarrely in a large inflatable baby costume – despite the fact that the link that this costume was supposed to have to the Lord Mayor’s charities was far from clear.
Lunch for competitors was taken in the Guildhall crypt and was enjoyed by all.